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Ottoman Algiers Beyond 1830

General Programming

dateNovember 4, 2022 timeFriday, 2:00pm–6:00pm EDT location Buell Hall, Maison Française, Columbia University
  • Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
  • Department of History
  • Department of French
  • Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
  • Middle East Institute
  • Maison Française
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
Painting of four women seated and drinking tea in front of a view of Algiers

In 1830, French troops conquered Ottoman Algiers. In the following 130 years, the occupation –and subsequent annexation– of Algeria became one of the most significant examples of European colonialism. Abdelkader’s anticolonial resistance, the development of the French mission civilisatrice and the extensive infrastructure surrounding it, the rise of the F.L.N. and the Algerian war of independence, to name but a few examples, all became well-documented, well-studied episodes in modern colonialism’s most emblematic story. However, this all-colonial narrative, one where the French conquest appears inevitable and hegemonic, often obscures fundamental dimensions of Algeria’s modern history.

Our workshop seeks to address this question by considering the history of the conquest from the point of view of the conquered: the Ottoman province of Algiers. That the Algiers of 1830 had been a province of the Ottoman Empire for over three centuries has been largely ignored by historians of modern Algeria. The speakers of this workshop take as a point of departure the idea that Algeria’s colonial history cannot be understood without considering its profound Ottoman entanglements. Looking beyond 1830, we trace the deep continuities that tied colonial Algeria to its “pre-colonial” past and reveal the myriad ways Algiers remained Ottoman well after the French conquest. We explore several themes, including the discursive invention of ‘1830’ and the construction of the precolonial/colonial opposition; local petitions as sites of negotiation for old and new imperial identities; as well as mapping, archive-making, and other technologies of appropriation and re-signification of Algiers’ Ottoman past.

This workshop will take the form of an afternoon-long conference with two panels of two presenters each and a respondent for each panel. Speakers will include Zeynep Çelik, Isabelle Grangaud, Noureddine Amara, Youssef Ben Ismail, and Emmanuelle Saada.

Co-conveners: Youssef Ben Ismail, Zeynep Çelik, Emmanuelle Saada


time2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT

First Panel

Isabelle Grangaud (CNRS Research Professor, Norbert Elias Center, Marseille) “Investigating the Algerian Ottoman Collection: Archives, Conflicts, Colonization” ||Discussant: Emmanuelle Saada (Columbia University)

Appropriations, Losses, Erasures, and Continuities

Zeynep Çelik

Sakıp Sabancı Visiting Professor in the Department of History

Columbia University

Investigating the Algerian Ottoman Collection: Archives, Conflicts, Colonization

Isabelle Grangaud

NRS Research Professor

Norbert Elias Center, Marseille


Emmanuelle Saad

Professor of French and of History; Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies

Columbia University

time3:30pm - 4:00pm EDT

Coffee break

time4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT

Second Panel
We Do Not Know Well Ourselves What the Algerians Are

Noureddine Amara

Independent Scholar

Colonial Theft and Historical Erasure: Itineraries of a Stolen Manuscript From Ottoman Algeria

Youssef Ben Ismail

Society of Fellows

Columbia University


Emmanuelle Saada

Professor of French and of History; Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies

Columbia University

time5:30pm - 6:00pm EDT

Closing Session

All presenters and discussants